Give a Hoot About Owls


Short-eared Owl, by John Sill.

Halloween is a fitting time for us to shine a spotlight on owls, birds of prey who are well-known for their nocturnal activities and haunting hooting.  There are eight regularly occurring species of owl in Massachusetts and they are found in a variety of habitats, including your residential neighborhood!

Although they are quite common, owls can be very mysterious and little is known about their habitat needs or population dynamics. Unfortunately, data from our State of the Birds monitoring suggests that three species, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl and Barn Owl are declining in Massachusetts. These species require urgent conservation action and we need your help to fill knowledge gaps about their populations.

Our Owl Citizen Science project is helping to unravel the mystery of where owls occur; we have had more than 300 reports of areas where owls have been seen or heard. The majority of data have been on the location of breeding owls, and many people have even reported nests. While these data are valuable, we are also interested in information on wintering owl populations. This citizen science project runs year round so give a hoot about owls and report your sightings today!

We were lucky enough to have Barred Owls breed outside the Bird Conservation office at Mass Audubon Headquarters this spring. Photo by Marj Rines.

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